Piyush Goyal’s Coal Ministry Nicks Amnesty’s Photo for its Website

After the Spain-Morocco border photo, now the Coal ministry has stolen an Amnesty International photo. 

3 min read
This photo used by Piyush Goyal was originally published by Amnesty International report to document the human tragedy behind the expansion of coal mines. (Photo: <a href="https://www.amnesty.org.in/images/uploads/articles/COAL%2BREPORT_11_FINAL_on_27-7-2k16_LOWRES.pdf">Amnesty International</a>/Altered by <b>The Quint</b>)

Even before the dust has settled over the use of the Spain-Morocco border to showcase floodlighting along the India-Pakistan border, another shocking case of copyright violation on the part of the government has come to light.

The Ministry of Coal used the photo to boast about their achievements. Ironically, the photo was used in an Amnesty International report to about the human cost of the expansion of coal mines.

The report, titled ‘When Land is Lost, Do We Eat Coal? Coal Mining and Violations of Adivasi Rights’, claims the Ministry of Coal acquired land without the consent of Adivasi communities using the Coal Bearing Areas Act, as part of a drive to double Coal India Limited’s production. The mine in the picture is Kusmunda in Korba, Chhattisgarh.

It was Aruna Chandrasekhar, who took the photograph in 2014, who pointed out the theft of the image. Chandrasekhar, a photojournalist and researcher who was previously associated with Amnesty International India, has documented stories of people most affected by the expansion of the mine for over three years.

The story of the vanishing village of Barkuta in the picture has also been captured in a virtual reality film and photo-essay available here.

“The four of us — director, film crew, Nirupabai and I — crouch amidst the ruins of demolished homes in the village of Barkuta, in Korba, when the blasting from the mine begins, sending earth and rock from flattened fields and forests into the air. We are asked by those whose houses tremble why the story of India ramping up its coal production at their expense is not explosive enough,” states Aruna Chandrasekhar in her essay.

When the Amnesty report came out, Piyush Goyal, Union Minister of State for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines, rubbished its claims.

Goyal said:

I think it is a completely baseless report and I think it is floated by certain elements who cant see the development and prosperity of India.

His ministry, however, did not think twice about stealing a photograph from that very report to showcase its achievements. The picture was used on the home pages of Ministry of Coal and Ujjwal Bharat. It has now been deleted from both places, but Alt News managed to take a screenshot of the Google cache. Piyush Goyal also tweeted the picture from his Twitter handle.

(Screengrab Courtesy: Alt News)
(Screengrab Courtesy: Alt News)

(Screengrab Courtesy: Alt News)
(Screengrab Courtesy: Alt News)

(Screengrab Courtesy: Alt News)
(Screengrab Courtesy: Alt News)

Goyal deleted his tweet after Aruna Chandraseekhar tweeted about it.

In a series of tweets, Chandrasekhar wrote about spending three years looking at exemptions used to mine at cost of people and environment and then finding that Goyal tweets her photograph to talk about import dollars saved.

Even Amnesty India tweeted to Goyal.

This is not the first time that government reports and promotion material have used material available on the Internet without any regard for copyright.

The frequency with which this is happening raises serious questions about how the government is sourcing these photographs and the ethical standards of the agencies it has employed to develop its promotional material.

Till the government takes serious action, this story of one major embarrassment after another will continue.

(The views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same. The original article was published on Alt News.)

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